I have written many times about the need for backup services, including an article about Backblaze that I published last week at http://goo.gl/OMHR0Z. I have also written many times about the constantly decreasing costs of online file storage services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Amazon S3, SugarSync, Microsoft OneDrive, SpiderOak, Box, and a number of others. Now I can combine several articles into one: Backblaze has always been known as a method of backing up data files from your computer. Now the company is expanding into file storage (of any kinds of files) and claims to have the lowest prices of any of its competitors. The other file storage services charge 2¢ or more per gigabyte per month. However, Backblaze is pricing its service at just half a cent per gigabyte per month with the first 10 gigabytes free.
NOTE: Online backup services are not the same as file storage services. The two are closely related but have significant differences. Backblaze is now offering two separate services: one for backups and another for file storage.
Backblaze’s online backup service is already cheap at $5/month for unlimited size backups of any one computer. (See my earlier article at http://goo.gl/OMHR0Z for details.) Now the company plans to sell that same cheap storage to anyone who needs a lot of file storage space. Backblaze’s B2 storage costs 0.5¢ per gigabyte per month, with the first 10GB free. Backblaze’s biggest competitor, Amazon S3, charges 2.2¢ per gigabyte per month.
Unlike many other file storage services, Backblaze will only charge for the actual space used. For instance, with many file storage services, you have to pay (in advance) for a specific amount of space, whether you ever use it or not. With many of Backblaze’s competitors, you might sign up for 50 gigabytes of storage space. If you then only use 10 gigabytes, you are paying for an extra 40 gigabytes of (empty) space you are not using. In contrast, Backblaze (and Amazon S3) only charge for the space you actually use. In this example, you would only pay for 10 gigabytes of space, not 50.
As the Backblaze web site at https://www.backblaze.com/b2/cloud-storage.html states, “Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage works similar to Amazon S3 or Microsoft Azure, allowing you to store unlimited data in the cloud. But does it for 1/4th the cost.”
There are some limits to Backblaze’s new B2 offering. The most obvious difference is that Backblaze has only one data center, in California, unlike Amazon’s multiple data center regions around the world. A California forest fire, earthquake, or other disaster could knock Backblaze’s single data center out of operation while Amazon’s multiple data centers have already proven to be impervious to outages caused by disasters, including the huge Japanese earthquake and tsunami of a few years ago. A few Amazon customers suffered brief outages after that disaster. When the services came back online a very few minutes later, all data was available. Nothing was lost. (Amazon’s Japanese data center did not return to full operation for weeks but Amazon’s customers didn’t know that. Amazon’s servers in other parts of the world took over within a very few minutes, using duplicate copies of all the data they previously backed up from the Japanese data center.)
I often describe the need to keep copies of your important data in two, three, or even more places. The phrase to remember is L.O.C.K.S.S. – Lots Of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe. Backblaze’s use of only one data center wouldn’t bother me if I knew that identical copies the same data were available at BackBlaze and also available at home and at two or three other locations. The abrupt loss of data at any one location would then be an inconvenience, not a disaster. I plan to use Backblaze’s new B2 service as the place to save “one more copy” of my files, not as the only copy of my important files.
Backblaze is taking sign-ups now for its beta test, which it will start fulfilling next month. Public availability is planned by the end of the year. You can learn more or even sign up for a spot in the waiting list at https://www.backblaze.com/b2/cloud-storage.html.